In August I will attend the Writers Digest conference in New York City. I am very excited because it is the first time that I will actually be present to experience the physicality (and intangibles) of what goes on at these conferences.
There was a time in my life when I was an events planner with a great deal of responsibility, not too much in the way of experience and having access to only a small budget. I lived in a small town and the local Chamber of Tourism responsible for putting on events had few members who were willing or had the know-how to put together a worth-attending affair. I was brought up in New York City which meant that at the very least I knew what a good event should look like and take into account.
I never felt like we did a great job but the people of the town (not being used to anything spectacular) were always happy with the activities and gave us lots of praise. Deep in my heart I have always accepted that people will accept anything, however mediocre, if it means they can turn up, spend a few hours, spend a few dollars, and then go home. As long as no one is asking you to stick around and clean up, or to volunteer to distribute pamphlets or set up tables and chairs which will later have to be put away, all is good. Once volunteers are needed, or donors are asked to contribute financially, there is less enthusiasm to put on something. It is a bit disheartening, I admit, but somehow some of us continue to try to make life in a small town a bit more lively. That would be me, despite all the disappointments I have had.
In one of my recent spurts of energy, I decided to tackle a mountain of files that had been carefully piled up on a side table in my office. I set aside a few hours for the project, knowing that even a whole week of doing nothing else would not make me achieve my goal. I had decided I would not devote too much time to each individual document but that I would skim the topic, decide if it has to be kept or can be discarded and turn to the next document in the file. It is easier thought than done. Document after document contained some pertinent reason for continuing in the file and in my life…after a few unsuccessful attempts to discard a page or two, I decided to give up the project for the time being and instead spent time delving more deeply into one of the folders.
What I found in that folder was simply amazing. Apparently a decade ago I was doing some introspective work and answered questions and made some commitments (to myself). I ended the exercise with a note not to open the file again until the end of December 2008…yes 2008! Who knows what was gong on for me at the time (life I suppose) but I completely forgot about the file, the notes, the exercise! I was astonished to read what I wrote more than a decade ago, to see what was important and to renew what my goals at the time had been. I am even more amazed to note that many of the goals and desires of the time continue to be with me today.
One of my goals back in 2008 was to learn a new language…well, I am learning to play guitar, that’s kind of a language, right? Devote more time to writing…I think I’ve got that covered although I am still finding ways to procrastinate the actual novel writing and focusing on character development. Lose some weight…back at it, in fact still at it might be a more accurate description, maybe this year! But overall, I was happy to note that the almost merciless self-inventory is as accurate today as it was then. That overall my values and ethics are still intact and that my most glorious moments (time spent with my then young children) have continued to be that way even these eleven years later.
I was glad to find those documents, they serve as a sort of compass of my personality’s endurance. My goal of getting rid of documentation has actually resulted in more documentation being produced as I am newly engaged in visiting the events that prompted that self-inventory and writing about them. It’s all good though.
One of the items on that rather extensive list of things I wanted to do was to just spend time enjoying life rather than trying to make every second of every day be about something meaningful. I am happy to say that these days, I am perfectly comfortable sitting in a chair gazing at nothing in particular or just observing the flight of a raven on a clear day. It is a great feeling.
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